Amaysim Australia and Lycamobile have paid penalties totalling $126,000 and $12,600 respectively after the ACCC issued each of these mobile services providers with an infringement notice for alleged false or misleading representations about their mobile phone plans.
The ACCC alleges that each business separately misrepresented that their mobile phone plans were ‘unlimited’ in advertisements on social media designed to entice new customers, when in fact the plans had a maximum data allowance.
On or around 1 January 2020, amaysim published an advertisement on its Twitter account which included the statement ‘…your mother loves the Unlimited Mobile Data offer from amaysim’ and the hashtag ‘#UnlimitedMobileData’, which the ACCC alleges represented that the amaysim plans provided unlimited mobile data to consumers.
In fact, amaysim’s advertised plans only provided an unlimited data allowance for the first three renewals and then would revert to a capped amount, with charges imposed if the data use by customers exceeded the capped amount.
On or about 29 November 2019, Lycamobile published an advertisement on its Facebook page which referred to ‘Unlimited Plan S’ and ‘Unlimited Plan M’, which the ACCC alleges represented to consumers that these plans would provide an unlimited data allowance. Each of Lycamobile’s ‘unlimited’ plans had a capped data allowance, and customers who exceeded that allowance were subject to additional charges.
The ACCC alleges that the messages in these advertisements breached Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and were likely to mislead consumers.
“Consumers who saw the word ‘unlimited’ in the advertisements without any explanation of the limits of the plans were likely to expect they would not be charged additional fees for mobile data, no matter how much data they used,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.
“The telco industry has been previously put on notice that their advertisements must be clear and transparent, and must not contain claims like ‘unlimited’ without a clear and prominent disclosure of any qualification or exception which applies to the offer. We will continue to monitor mobile plan advertisements and won’t hesitate to enforce the law.”
“The amount of data included in a mobile phone plan is an important factor for many consumers in choosing a plan, and it is important that consumers can readily understand what they are signing up to,” Mr Sims said.